By Gary Robertson RICHMOND, Virginia (Reuters) - Mark Obenshain, the Republican candidate for attorney general of Virginia, on Wednesday conceded to rival Mark Herring, after a recount of month-old ballots showed the Democrat holding a narrow but growing lead. By bowing out, he gave Democrats the first sweep of all three statewide offices, including governor and lieutenant governor, since 1989. Herring had previously declared victory in the attorney general's race. But Obenshain requested a recount when the final election totals showed that Herring's margin of victory was only 165 votes, out of more than 2.2 million cast. Under Virginia law, a losing candidate can request a recount when the margin of victory is less than 1 percent of all votes cast. The recount, supervised by a panel of three judges, began Monday. As it continued, Herring's lead only grew. By Tuesday, he was up by more than 800 votes, with 73 percent of the votes counted statewide. During an afternoon press conference, Obenshain said it had become apparent to him that, "Our campaign going to come up a few votes short ... It was a vigorous and hard-fought campaign, but it's over." Obenshain, flanked by his wife and daughter, said he had called Herring earlier in the day and had congratulated him on his victory. Herring and Obenshain are Virginia state senators, and their race to become the state's top law enforcement officer became a nail-bitter. Herring will succeed Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who failed in his bid to become governor of Virginia, losing to Democrat Terry McAuliffe, a close friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton. Herring's win reaffirmed that Virginia is no longer a reliable Republican state. Virginia also has two Democratic U.S. senators, and voters twice went for Barack Obama in presidential elections. Although he lost the election, Obenshain said he would continue to fight for conservative values and limited government. The final vote in the attorney general's race will not be known until the recount is completed, and the results are tabulated by the State Board of Elections. William Hurd, an attorney representing Obenshain in the recount, said the three-judge court would then enter an order certifying that Herring is the winner. (Editing by Scott Malone)
- The Independent
Rioters who entered Capitol building may not be charged if they didn’t engage in violence, report says
Federal officials do not want to crush court system with hundreds of cases
- The Telegraph
Russian police detained Yulia Navalnaya, the wife of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, at a protest in Moscow on Saturday as demonstrations in support of the opposition leader swept across Russia. Authorities detained at least 1,600 people at unauthorised rallies in Moscow and dozens of cities across the country, with some reports of violent clashes between protesters and riot police. At least 10,000 people joined protests in Moscow, according to estimates, in a test to Vladimir Putin. Protests began in Russia’s Far East and Siberia on Saturday morning. Seven time zones east of Moscow, about 3,000 people marched across the city of Vladivostok on the Pacific Ocean, chanting “Navalny!” In Novosibirsk, chants “Putin is a thief” rang out in freezing minus 19 C temperatures as opposition supporters walked across the city to the main square.
Saab, a Colombian national accused by U.S. prosecutors of money laundering in connection to an allegedly corrupt deal to obtain supplies for Maduro's government-run food subsidy program, was arrested last June in Cape Verde pursuant to an Interpol red notice. In a late Thursday filing with the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Saab's lawyers argued that he should not be considered a fugitive from U.S. justice because Venezuela's government named him a "special envoy" in 2018.
- Associated Press
It's taken only days for Democrats gauging how far President Joe Biden's bold immigration proposal can go in Congress to acknowledge that if anything emerges, it will likely be significantly more modest. As they brace to tackle a politically flammable issue that's resisted major congressional action since the 1980s, Democrats are using words like “aspirational” to describe Biden's plan and “herculean” to express the effort they'll need to prevail. A cautious note came from the White House on Friday when press secretary Jen Psaki said the new administration views Biden's plan as a “first step” it hopes will be “the basis" of discussions in Congress.
- The Telegraph
The SNP has revealed a "roadmap to a referendum" on Scottish independence, with the latest poll showing a majority want a fresh vote. Mike Russell, the Scottish Government's Constitution Secretary, will present the 11-point document to the party's policy forum on Sunday. It says a "legal referendum" will be held after the pandemic if there is a pro-independence majority following May's election. The roadmap states any attempt by the UK Government to challenge the legality of the referendum in the courts will be "vigorously opposed". A Section 30 order - part of the Scotland Act 1998 which allows Holyrood to pass laws normally reserved to Westminster - was granted by the UK Government ahead of the 2014 independence referendum.
A prominent U.S. Senate Republican warned on Saturday that former President Donald Trump's second impeachment trial could lead to the prosecution of former Democratic presidents if Republicans retake the chamber in two years. Trump this month became the first U.S. president to be impeached twice after the Democratic-controlled House, with the support of 10 Republicans, voted to charge him with incitement of insurrection for a fiery Jan. 6 speech to his followers before they launched a deadly assault on the Capitol.
- Yahoo News Video
It's a club Donald Trump was never really interested in joining and certainly not so soon: the cadre of former commanders in chief who revere the presidency enough to put aside often bitter political differences and even join together in common cause.
- Associated Press
Canada said its officials have met online with former diplomat Michael Kovrig, who has been held in China for more than two years in a case related to an executive of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei. Canada’s Foreign Ministry said officials led by Ambassador Dominic Barton were given “on-site virtual consular access” to Kovrig on Thursday. Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor have been confined since Dec. 10, 2018, just days after Canada detained Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, who is also the daughter of the founder of the Chinese telecommunications equipment giant.
- NBC News
Samuel Camargo faces four charges including civil disorder, knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority.
Russia is ready to set up a dialogue with the new Biden administration in which differences are expected to be aired, a Kremlin spokesman said on Sunday, adding that President Vladimir Putin would respond in kind to U.S. willingness to talk. Relations between Moscow and Washington have been at their lowest since the end of the Cold War, with the two sides at odds over Russia's role in Ukraine and allegations of its meddling in U.S. elections, which it denies, among other issues. The United States on Saturday also called on Russian authorities to release protesters and journalists detained at demonstrations supporting detained Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, and condemned what it called "harsh tactics" used against them.
- Associated Press
The main opposition challenger in Belarus’ disputed presidential election urged the United Nations on Friday to call for a halt to “violence and lawlessness” in the country, including media censorship, internet shutdowns, website blockages and cancellation of accreditation for journalists. Former presidential candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya told an informal meeting of the U.N. Security Council that since September the situation in her nation “has only worsened” and the media remain under assault from President Alexander Lukashenko’s regime.
- The Telegraph
Israel has started vaccinating teenagers as it expanded its world-leading Covid-19 vaccination campaign to 16-18 year-olds in an effort to get them back in schools to take their winter exams on schedule. At least one dose has been administered to over 25 per cent of Israel’s 9.25 million population, with just over 10.5 per cent having received a second dose. Working its way down its priority list, the vaccine in Israel is now available to anyone over 40 or, with parental permission, those aged between 16 and 18. The winter matriculation certificate is a large part of university and military admissions. Israel struck a deal with Pfizer at the beginning of January that allowed them to expedite delivery of the vaccine so that all over 16s would be inoculated by the end of March, in return for extensive data on their vaccination campaign to share with the world. Israeli health minister, Yuli Edelstein, told The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday that the data from their vaccination programme suggests a first dose gave just 30 per cent protection from coronavirus. “We are just at the beginning of the (vaccination) campaign, we do see cases of people that after getting the first dose still get sick with the coronavirus,” he said.
- Associated Press
Ultra-Orthodox demonstrators clashed with Israeli police in two major cities on Sunday, as authorities faced new difficulties in enforcing coronavirus restrictions in the country's religious communities. The clashes occurred in Jerusalem and Ashdod as police attempted to close religious schools that had opened in violation of lockdown orders. This has contributed to a disproportionate infection rate, with the ultra-Orthodox community accounting for over one-third of Israel's coronavirus cases, despite making up just over 10% of the population.
- The Week
President Biden has issued another two executive orders aimed at the coronavirus pandemic's economic fallout.Millions of Americans have claimed unemployment insurance as they lost their jobs amid the pandemic, not to mention thousands of noncitizen workers who haven't been eligible for the benefits. Congress has so far passed two relief bills aimed at helping those who have lost their jobs, though many families are still struggling. Biden is pushing Congress to pass another $1.9 trillion stimulus program, but took initial and immediate relief steps Friday with another round of executive orders.The first order would increase how much families are given through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program each week. About 12 million families rely on the program, and this order would boost food stamp benefits for a family of four by 15 percent, National Economic Council Director Brian Deese tells The New York Times. And while Biden has called for another round of $1,400 stimulus checks, this order would direct the IRS to ensure Americans are getting their $600 payments as well. Notably, the order will also let people claim unemployment benefits even if they quit their job because they feel unsafe working it during the pandemic, among other economic benefits aimed at low-income Americans.The second order meanwhile lays the groundwork for ensuring federal workers and contractors are paid at least $15 per hour and can access paid leave, CNN reports. It also undoes some of former President Donald Trump's orders that let a president hire and fire employees for political reasons and limited federal workers' bargaining rights.Biden has spent the first two days of his presidency issuing executive orders to combat Trump's policies on immigration, climate, the pandemic, and more.More stories from theweek.com 5 scathingly funny cartoons about Biden's COVID-19 push 7 brutally funny cartoons about Trump's White House exit 'No way' McConnell has had a post-Trump 'epiphany,' political scientist says
Pirates off Nigeria's coast kidnapped 15 sailors from a Turkish container ship in the Gulf of Guinea on Saturday in a brazen and violent attack that was farther from shore than usual. One sailor was killed in the raid, an Azerbaijani citizen, while those kidnapped are from Turkey, according to the respective governments and a crew list obtained by Reuters. Accounts from crew, family members and security sources described a sophisticated and well-orchestrated attack on Saturday in which armed pirates boarded the ship and breached its protective citadel, possibly with explosives.
- The Telegraph
Thousands of Hong Kongers were ordered to stay in their homes on Saturday for the city's first coronavirus lockdown as authorities battle an outbreak in one of its poorest and most densely packed districts. The order bans anyone inside multiple housing blocks within the neighbourhood of Jordan from leaving their apartment unless they can show a negative test. Officials said they planned to test everyone inside the designated zone within 48 hours "in order to achieve the goal of zero cases in the district". The South China Morning Post said the measures covered about 150 housing blocks and up to 9,000 people with hundreds of police on standby to enforce the lockdown. Hong Kong was one of the first places to be struck by the coronavirus after it burst out of central China.
- Business Insider
The Bidens were reportedly left waiting outside the White House on Inauguration Day because Trump sent the staff home
The Trumps sent the butlers home "so there would be no-one to help the Bidens when they arrived," a source told The National Journal.
- Associated Press
Arizona Republicans voted Saturday to censure Cindy McCain and two prominent GOP members who have found themselves crosswise with former President Donald Trump. The censures of Sen. John McCain’s widow, former Sen. Jeff Flake and Gov. Doug Ducey are merely symbolic.
Guyana said late on Saturday that a Venezuelan navy vessel detained two vessels that were fishing in Guyana's exclusive economic zone, the latest dispute in a long-running border conflict between the two South American nations. Caracas says much of eastern Guyana is its own territory, a claim that is rejected by Georgetown. The conflict has flared up in recent years as Guyana has started developing oil reserves near the disputed area.
- Associated Press
Four Zimbabwean Cabinet ministers have died of COVID-19, three within the past two weeks, highlighting a resurgence of the disease that is sweeping through this southern African country. President Emmerson Mnangagwa said the coronavirus is reaping a “grim harvest” in the country. Then came the death of the transport minister.